Press Release: February 25, 2021

FEBRUARY 25, 2021


SPRINGFIELD, IL – United Way of Central Illinois is excited to announce they received an anonymous gift of $70,000 to support the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library helps children become kindergarten ready by sending them one book a month in the mail until they turn five years old at no cost to the families. Program benefits include increased family time, fostering positive attitudes about books and reading, promotion of early literacy skills, and expanding vocabulary.

“We’re excited to help all the children of our community have the opportunity to begin reading and learning before they start formal schooling,” said the anonymous donors.

No child can be turned away from the opportunity to receive books through this program. Parents of children with hearing and vision impairments can access audio and braille books for expanded access.

The anonymous gift allowed over 700 children to be removed from the waitlist and receive their first book in February. United Way has been receiving multiple thank you letters and lots of photos of the excited children receiving their first book

With a major gift from SCHEELS, the program launched in Sangamon County in September 2011. Since launching, more than 160,943 books have been mailed in Sangamon County and more than 6,835 kids have been served. United Way of Central Illinois was able to extend this program to Menard County thanks to partnerships with Athens Lions Club and Petersburg Woman’s Club

The cost of the program per child is about $26 per year or $130 per child for all five years if they are registered at birth.

“This gift, especially now, is much needed to be able to continue offering this program in Sangamon County,” said John Kelker, President of United Way of Central Illinois. “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library guarantees access to books and inspires parents to read to their children. This simple task has a big impact on a child.”

United Way is celebrating the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program during the week of March 1st, 2021 in honor of the transformative anonymous gift and Read Across America Day. Follow United Way of Central Illinois on Facebook to see daily activities.

For more information on how you can help United Way reach their goal to have all children birth to five years old in Sangamon County receive high-quality developmentally appropriate books, please visit


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *